You may think that there are no more superhero TV shows and movies that can offer the public, but you are wrong.
Kamala Khan is cute. She’s also terrifying, but she’s mostly cute.
There are few things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that can be described as adorable. Baby Groot sure, but he only stayed for one movie. Peter Parker has a crush on Liz and then MJ, but that comes with the awkwardness of teenage romance.
Kamala (Iman Vellani) is cute though. She’s an unadulterated bundle of enthusiasm, optimism and charm without being two, just the combination you need when superhero fatigue has set in.
Fatigue is a real thing in the genre, given the many superhero and anti-superhero titles on screens big and small, but Mrs. Marvel is an injection of freshness, partly because Kamala is a fan.
When the series starts, Kamala is just like any other superhero superfan. She’s plastered memorabilia on her walls, eagerly anticipates fan conventions, and is pumped for her cosplay outfit.
She and her friends talk about heroic exploits and obsessions about the lives of MCU mainstays, including Captain Marvel, after whom she later forms her nickname.
Kamala has just become one of the legion of true MCU fans who have devoured all of the franchise’s movies (28 and counting) and TV and streaming series (countless).
Her zeal in the universe is an energetic reminder that for all its flaws and ubiquity — or what it says about the Hollywood machinery — there is still something special about this narrative universe that has shaped dominant popular culture.
It’s the recognizability of the character and the “what if?” fantasy scenario of turning a fan into one of the superheroes who cares Mrs. Marvel an extra punch. Imagine if it happened to you – would you feel burdened with responsibility or would you just have fun with it while you still can?
Kamala, from Jersey City, is a suburban teenager of Pakistani background. Her life revolves around school, her friends and her family.
For a mega franchise, Ms. Marvel has taken a surprisingly grounded approach to contextualizing the character within her Muslim community.
There are scenes of Kamala in her mosque, where she and her friend Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher) complain about the poor facilities available to female worshipers compared to the men, or how she treats all the different “aunts” and “uncles” that unwanted life advice.
Her immigrant parents have expectations that teens of different faiths and backgrounds will be familiar with.
It’s groundbreaking in a quiet, almost covert way, especially when you consider that the show also references the trauma and displacement of the Partition of India of 1947.
You wouldn’t expect that in a Marvel show, its violent legacy is tied to a 2022 teenager with superpowers.
None of this is marked as a capital S significant, rather it may be played out as texture in an authentic lived life. It’s just like that.
You understand – quickly – exactly what kind of character Kamala is, where she comes from and what she will be capable of, and it’s an exciting development in a teeming MCU.
The role is Canadian teen and self-confessed MCU fan Vellani’s first role, and she’s a great discovery. Packed with charisma, she has a natural instinct for balancing comedy, pathos and rowdyness, making her an absolute joy to watch – and she’s backed up with sharp writing and a dynamic tone closer to Spider Man then it’s over Eternalsbut also his own thing.
If Vellani is the future of the MCU – and she’s already filmed her scenes for the miracles alongside Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris – then the superhero franchise still has a lot to offer its many, many fans. Kamala would agree.
Ms Marvel is now streaming on Disney+ with new episodes available on Wednesday
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